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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It Pays to get Fit at Work

Businesses big and small around the country are looking to cut costs while at the same time trying to improve the well-being of their employees.  Both goals can be accomplished by providing a corporate wellness program for workers.  Approximately 130 million Americans are in the workforce, with many of these jobs entailing long periods of sitting - a situation that is associated with an increased risk for the development of chronic diseases.

Companies are spending an estimated 25-30% per year in health care costs as a result of risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity.  Worksite fitness and health education programs are a proven solution.

Benefits of a Corporate Wellness Program:
  • Decreased absenteeism rates (which translate into an estimated savings of $2.73 per every dollar spent on providing a worksite wellness program)
  • Increased worker productivity
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Reduced health care costs (an estimated savings of $3.27 per every dollar spent on providing a worksite wellness program)
  • The "ripple effect" - health benefits extend beyond the workplace as families of enrolled employees tend to adopt healthier lifestyle choices as a result of the employee's experiences from the corporate wellness program 
Worksite wellness programs run the gamut of sophistication, from fully equipped fitness centers and weekly nutrition and health lectures to only the presence of "point-of-decision" prompts (e.g., signs posted by elevators that recommend using the stairs instead).  Some easily incorporated practices that employers can use to promote health and physical activity in the workplace include:
  • Designate a walking route:  Distance markers can be placed in the halls of the office building or around the outside perimeter of the complex.
  • Form walking groups:  Employees can sign up to join an office walking club.  Multiple groups can be formed and friendly competitions and challenges can be initiated to increase motivation.
  • Offer employees incentives for enrolling in the program and/or achieving health and fitness goals. Ideally, incentives should promote health - such as a free yoga class if the employee stops smoking.
  • Send out weekly emails and/or newsletters promoting healthy lifestyle habits and offering practical tips and heart-healthy recipes.
  • Offer free blood pressure screenings and fitness assessment tests.
  • Provide a monthly inservice devoted to increasing the awareness of risk factors associated with chronic diseases
Institutions, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), offer corporate wellness program toolkits for companies interested in offering such programs for their employees.  The AHA's Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program acknowledges and rewards companies who take the initiative to promote their employees health and well-being.

Note:  Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

American Heart Association

AHA Policy Statement, October 27, 2009, "Worksite Wellness Programs for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention," Carnethon, M. et al,.

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Blogger Nick said...

In addition to the AHA toolkit, companies can also take advantage of wellness portals that they manage online. This type of tool allows employees to identify health risk factors, develop a plan to address those factors and then measure their results.

May 25, 2010 at 12:28 AM 

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